The school board and Casey have hired Attorney Bob Kingsley to advise them as they now seek firms that specialize in identifying and recruiting school superintendents. Requests for proposals to handle the Pleasanton search have been issued with a deadline of next Wednesday from interested firms. Kingsley has named six firms that have regional and national reputations, including four based in California, one in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and another in the Chicago suburb of Glenview, Ill. He estimates the cost of a California or regional search at about $30,000, more for a national search, with the time from hiring a search firm to signing a contract with a new superintendent at about four to seven months. Meetings with the firms to be considered for the search effort to refining the criteria that should be used in identifying superintendent candidates will all be done at public meetings.
Much remains to be decided about what kind of a superintendent Pleasanton needs going forward. Casey has been at the helm since 2002, which will give him eight years of service when he retires, longer than average for school superintendents. He replaced Mary Frances Callan, who served just three years before taking the same post in Palo Alto. Bill James was superintendent from 1985 to 1998 before he retired. He has since helped other school districts hire superintendents and, in fact, could be considered for a temporary position as interim superintendent if Casey leaves before his successor is found. The Palmdale (Calif.) School District hired its former superintendent recently to serve on an interim basis, a step Kingsley says works well since these kinds of choices aren't candidates themselves for the open position.
Finding a new superintendent may be more difficult this time around than search firms had in recruiting Casey and Callan. Faced with a troubled school district budget, financial chaos in Sacramento and a school board election, a candidate that has the experience and reputation of slashing expenses and talking tough to the local teachers union as may be necessary in 2010 and beyond may have trouble gaining the popular vote of the Community Advisory Group and school board members facing re-election. Yet revenue forecasts show that tough decisions will have to be made for Pleasanton to remain financially stable. School districts around us are making those decisions, cutting sports and programs in districts to the north and merging elementary schools in neighboring Livermore. Casey promised to raise the bar of academics in the Pleasanton system when he took over in 2002 by making this a "world class" district. He's achieved that objective. His will be a tough act to follow.